Slow start leads to double-digit victory over the Griffens


Emma Fitzgerald and Gwen Morris-Lundstrom set the full-court press against the Griffens.

Andres Armenta , Photo Editor

Following a resounding win, the Mesa women’s basketball team aimed to enter Griffen arena and continue their dominance against Grossmont College. However, their juggernaut offense, which took over their previous game, was hard to find in the opening half. 

After going 0-3 from the field shooting with a pair of turnovers, Mesa’s opening minutes became foreshadowing of what was to come. With three minutes left in the first quarter, a 3-pointer from Cherrel Dorton secured Mesa’s first lead of the game. The Olympians were slow to put up points, and they were quick in committing fouls.

“A slow, lethargic start, missed some shots, the fouling was a big issue, we like to play fast and fouling slows the game down,” said coach Lindsay  Samaniego. 

Quick fouls against Mesa gave the Griffens frequent visits to the free throw line allowing them to remain within striking distance at the close of the first quarter as Mesa led 15-12.

“We just have to react to how the officials are calling the game early…we have to adjust in the game instead of at halftime or when it’s too late,” said starting point guard Emma Fitzgerald.

Amidst the increasing foul trouble, Fitzgerald continued to lead an energetic full-court press against Grossmont, forcing snap decisions that allowed Mesa to capitalize in transition. In fact, 36% of Mesa’s final score was a direct result of points off of turnovers, largely due to defensive contributions by Gwen Morris-Lundstrum and Fitzgerald combining for nine steals.

Mesa found themselves with a 28-20 lead heading into halftime, during which, the Olympians remained on the court to adjust for the second half. However, not directly with head coach Lindsay Samaniego. In fact, the team’s halftime regimen initially consisted of internal conversation; a player lead huddle that allowed the team to analyze first-hand what needed improvement.

“We definitely like to talk to each other first because we’re the ones on the court and we tell each other what we need to know,” said shooting guard Kayla Sabri.

Whatever was said between the players and coach Samaniego seemed to work for the team, especially when looking at the bench. Scoring contributions off the bench became the difference maker in the second half and allowed for the Olympian’s trademark high-pace transition offense to shine. 

Production off of the bench finished in landslide favor of Mesa, with 33 points to Grossmont’s 5. Though bench depth was a difficulty for Grossmont, being just one player deep and closing out the final minutes with four players on the court due to foul trouble, Mesa used their own personnel to their advantage. 

Encapsulated in an incredible third-quarter sequence that began with; a 3-pointer from Morris-Lundstrom which then led to a steal, a 3-pointer for Sabri, all capped off by a layup from Niki Madgedi. Mesa’s offense had found its spark.

“At that point, we looked like us and how we typically play…I think once we got there it carried us through the rest of the game,” said coach Samaniego. 

The Olympians closed out the game going on a fourth-quarter 23-5 run against the Griffins to cap off an emphatic 68-45 win.

The Mesa women’s basketball team aims to extend their win streak to three games running as they head back home to face Imperial Valley on Feb. 15, at 7 p.m.